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What Lies Ahead: 2016 Industry Prediction Roundup

Our round up of expert predictions for the next year in food, media, beauty, tech, and retail…

With each new year comes new predictions forecasting what the hottest trends in the top industries will be. We’ll be using our own insights on young consumers and the trends they fuel to look ahead and share our own predictions with you (stay tuned), but today we’ve curated some of the things that other experts are saying will define 2016 across five industries:


The National Restaurant Association went right to the source to gauge where the capricious food industry is headed, asking 1,600 professional chefs what they’ll have on their plates come 2016. A focus on locally sourced protein and seafood is their top prediction, and that wasn’t the only mention of “local” on the list. Local produce is number three on the list, hyper-local sourcing is number four, and Eater is predicting it will get as local as backyard and rooftop gardens at restaurants in the not-so-distant future. Since 32% of 13-32-year-olds say a “local” label makes them more likely to buy food when grocery shopping, we’re not surprised to see the local craze continue. Chefs named chef-driven fast casual concepts (a trend we covered this year) as the number two trend, so we’ll continue to see high-profile chefs diving into the highly profitable casual food industry. Other trends worth mentioning include healthier foods for kids, food waste reduction, and ethnic condiments/spices most likely inspired by the Sriracha craze.


In 2015, we saw media consumption continue its shift to digital, and according to Forrester Research, in 2016 we will see media brands becoming more focused on the “consumer journey.” Audience behavior will become the focal point for brands, as they shift their marketing efforts to how content fits into consumers’ daily lives. As one marketing professional explains: “Even if ESPN thinks [tuning into its programming] is the most important thing [consumers] do in the day, it’s not. It’s one of 75 things they do in their day.” As a result, first-party data on audiences will become strategically important. Media brands will also be cutting the cord for audiences, by unbundling media that will further distance themselves from traditional TV.  

Tech innovations are seeping into the beauty industry and brands are looking to be more sustainable. According to Mintel research, getting greeted by a robot the next time you shop for makeup may not just be a plot line out of a sci-fi movie. Sephora already has one and is leading the way in digital beauty shopping, as more stores begin to experiment with augmented and virtual reality to showcase how to use products. Water shortages and the shift to organic ingredients, has also led brands to focus on being eco-friendlier and getting creative with DIY beauty product kits that can be created in a consumer’s kitchen.


The movie Her may not be as far-fetched as it seemed. The Wall Street Journal says that personal bot assistants are only getting smarter in 2016. Facebook’s Messenger upcoming features will include being able to make reservations, buying a gift for a friend, and reminding you of your mom’s birthday—how can you not fall in love? Only furthering our attachments to gadgets will be the even more intelligent and accurate capabilities of voice-operated electronics in 2016. We’ve already been talking to our cars and TVs, but expect to be talking a lot more as the feature is implemented into more computers and toys. (We told you Big Teddy would be watching…)The next year could (finally) bring an end to the anticipation of virtual reality going mainstream with the release of the Oculus Rift headset in the spring and Playstation’s VR soon after.   


Athleisure and healthy dining were hot trends for the retail space in 2015, and, as outlined by the Washington Post, experts are predicting that 2016 will be the year mobile wallets take off, foods get spicier, and smaller apparel retailers continue to succeed by catering to a generation looking for the “unique and distinctive.” Convenience and grocery stores are also expected to make big changes, with hyper-personalized meals for gluten-free and vegan eaters, and experience-focused locations that offer secret menus and entrances, to prepare for the influx of older Millennials shifting towards healthier foods at economical prices. Prices will also be keeping up with the times, as more brick-and-mortar locations will adjust their prices in real-time depending on inventory and demand, which is already practiced in the online space.